Learning From the Lazarus Effect

Lorch sat with Grace and Joe in a cream-­colored exam room, a red biohazard box nestled under one counter, and explained that all the standard treatments had been exhausted. He told them about an experimental trial for aggressive thyroid cancers that hadn’t responded to standard treatments, and Grace agreed to enroll. The drug, everolimus, was used in transplant surgery to prevent rejection, and it had been approved for some use in cancer. Lorch had seen indications that the drug could work in the thyroid, but he didn’t have high hopes for the anaplastic cases — its long track record had been too dismal. “Partly we were motivated,” Lorch told me, “by the fact that we didn’t have anything else.”

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